Have we ever been so excited to start a new year? I know I’m not the only one ready to say “boy bye” to 2016. The year 2017 feels like a fresh beacon of hope with its newness, and I know I’m ready to start fresh. Back in June I decided to put the month of January aside for taking a break and recharging my batteries (aka I’m a super-planner), so I’ve been looking forward to that month for many reasons. I’m planning to squeeze out one more blog post in January, but then I’m taking the rest of the month “off” to work on a site redesign (fingers crossed it all works out), have some down time and basically Marie Kondo my entire life. I’m really excited about it. And true to typical Sara fashion, I have the bulk of 2017 planned out for the blog and I’m excited to share all of that with you as well. There will be lots of fun recipes, cookbook reviews (as per usual), and a new fun blog series if all goes well.
To recap, in the last couple months I shared sweet potato tacos from the Love and Lemons Cookbook, a mac and cheese “tot dish” inspired by Molly Yeh’s cookbook (pure comfort food for these winter days), and a list of my favorite podcasts of 2016. (PS – did you know you can receive all of my new blog posts in your inbox? It’s the best way to keep in touch.) Over the next month or so I’m excited to cook through a lot of my new cookbooks, and especially to bake my heart out with this one. Here are some things I’ve been loving lately:
The Fitness Marshall – I used to go to a Zumba class every Monday with my mom for 3-4 years right after college, but then our favorite teacher moved away from the area and I have yet to find another Zumba class that fills that void. So aside from the occasional night out dancing with my friends, I’ve been getting my dance fix in my living room with some YouTube videos. My new favorite channel is The Fitness Marshall. This guy is so into it and he’s so hilarious that I can’t help but smile and laugh the whole time I’m working out with him. Dancing along with his videos at 6am is the best way to start my day. My other favorite YouTube dancing channel is Shine Dance Fitness. Do you have any favorites? Please let me know in the comments!
Christmas Party by She & Him – Once Thanksgiving is over I go hard with the Christmas music until December 26th. One of my favorite albums is A Very She & Him Christmas, so I was super excited to discover they had a new Christmas album this year and I’ve been loving it as well. They have a way of making their Christmas music sound nostalgic and modern at the same time. If you’re a Christmas music lover like me, you should add this one to your collection so you’re ready for next year. I’ve also been enjoying their recent Classics album.
pumpkin seed oil – I discovered oil cleansing a while ago and it has worked wonderfully for me. (It’s an especially nice discovery when your bathroom sink is from the 1940s and has separate hot and cold faucets, meaning you can never achieve “warm” water.) In the past few months I read an article talking about the different kinds of oils you can use for the process, and it mentioned pumpkin seed oil being particularly good for acne-prone skin. I decided to give it a shot and I’m in love. I now use pumpkin seed oil as a makeup remover, cleanser and general face moisturizer for when I get out of the shower. While still not perfect (let’s be real), I think this is the most consistently clear my skin has been since about the fifth grade. I’ve been using this kind I found on Amazon, and I love its compact size (which is also small enough to take on a carry-on for a flight – score!), as well as its pump feature which makes it easy to get out small amounts at a time.
Ellevest – Nerd alleeeerrrrrt. I love being in control of my finances and organizing my money in what I hope is the most responsible way. Robert thinks I’m a little nuts with my various savings accounts, but it’s the way my brain works. Investing, however, is a little over my head. I love the “robo-investers” out there because they do all of the hard work for me. I have an account with Betterment (highly recommended), but I recently discovered Ellevest and it’s my new love. This one is special because it’s tailored specifically for women. Did you know that women retire with 3/4 the amount of money as men, even though they live longer? Yep. Ellevest is an investment company built for women. Their algorithm takes into account our longer life spans, the fact that our salaries tend to peak at 40 (instead of 55 like men), the unfortunate still-present gender pay gap, and our greater likelihood of taking time off from our careers to care for our families, etc. The site has a beautiful interface, and they help you to pick a few goals to focus on (whether it’s investing in yourself, saving for a house or children or a new business, etc.) while giving you an estimate of what you should save based on inflation and whatnot. I love it! They also send all of their new clients fresh flowers (see above). I’m smitten. (By the way, you can still use Ellevest if you’re a man, and they will adjust their algorithm for you.)
homemade pasta – About 3 years ago Robert and I received the pasta maker attachment for our Kitchenaid mixer but kept neglecting to use it. (I think we were a little intimidated.) But it was on our 2016 bucket list to finally make fresh pasta at home, and we squeezed it in during December, just in the nick of time. It turns out that making the dough isn’t all that hard (especially if you just put your Kitchenaid to work with the dough hook), and using the pasta maker attachment is possibly the easiest thing in the entire world. Boil a pot of water and 90 seconds later you’ll be looking at some of the best dang pasta you’ve ever eaten. WE’RE HOOKED. I just ordered myself this Mastering Pasta book by Philadelphia food celebrity Marc Vetri (his pizza place was a favorite during our Feast of St. Pizza in Philly this year), and I can’t wait to make allllll of the different flavored pastas: basil, pistachio, pumpkin, WHATEVER. “New Year New Me” of 2017 = fresh pasta as often as possible. Anybody want to come over? Let’s just stuff my freezer with homemade pasta dough and have a party. (PS – so far we’ve only tried this recipe for fresh pasta from Serious Eats. It’s worked well, although I’ve had to add some water to the dough to make it the right consistency. That could have something to do with my eggs or the lack of humidity in my kitchen right now. Other than that, it’s worked beautifully.)
Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch Bars – Full disclosure: I was sent some of these bars as a sample because they just launched, but I fell instantly in love. As a Hershey local (I’m about 30 min from there), I was excited to try a new product from them. All 3 flavors are great – the caramel one reminds me of a Twix bar but with more chocolate, the vanilla creme one is basically a chocolate-covered Oreo (ummm hi!), and the mint ones are like chocolate covered Thin Mints. They really are just like your favorite cookies, but covered in chocolate. What’s not to love? My willpower is basically nonexistent with these.
Good Girls Revolt – This Amazon original has become my new gym show (which means I watch it on my phone while I’m on the elliptical – it makes an hour on there go by very quickly). It’s based on a true story about when the women at Newsweek sued the magazine in 1970 for the right to be writers and editors, like the men. I’ve heard some mixed reviews of the show, but so far I’m loving it. It’s especially pleasing to me in a visual sense with all of the 1960s/1970s hair and fashion (and all of the beautiful people). Great acting, too.
RECIPE BUCKET LIST
You can find all recipes from these lists on this Pinterest Board
• Chocolate Cookies with Salted Caramel Buttercream from Dessert for Two
• Miso Brownies from A Cozy Kitchen
• Greens + Beans Soup from With Food and Love
• Quick and Smooth Hummus from The Fauxmartha
• Slow Cooker Pork Bowls with Sesame Ginger Cucumbers from Appeasing a Food Geek
…. Happy New Year!!!
Illustration at top created with pencil and Photoshop.
Prints of my illustrations (plus other products with my work on them) are available in my Society6 shop.
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